July 23, 2024

The host of GOLF Originals, Michael Bamberger, takes NBC/Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee on a virtual U.S. Open tour, stopping at several iconic golf locations in and around Philadelphia. This is the latest episode of the show.

Among those locations was Merion Golf Club, which hosted the 2013 U.S. Open, which Justin Rose won but Phil Mickelson, one could argue, lost. In fact, discussing contemporary U.S. Opens would be incomplete without mentioning Mickelson, whose six runner-up positions have made him a fascinating narrative, even this year.

Although he and Bamberger visited the location of one of Mickelson’s most costly mistakes, his hooded wedge on the par-3 13th at Merion, Chamblee said that the incident summed up a lot of what he liked about the player. Chamblee has been critical of Mickelson for abandoning the PGA Tour.

“You can’t turn off the things that make you great,” Chamblee remarked. “And with Phil, he won 45 times and six major championships, so I mean, he deserves all the criticism he gets for pushing that wedge over the back of the green. What credit, then, do you give him for his curiosity and his never-ending quest to learn everything there is to know about his game—45 victories in six major titles? So, in my opinion, losing one along the way is a huge plus overall.

“That’s the essence of sports, you know—putting your all into it, data be damned.”

According to Chamblee, players these days are more dependent on safety and taking fewer risks, so it’s unfortunate that players like Mickelson, who are more entertaining to watch, are becoming less and less common in the game.

According to Chamblee, “there’s less sense of bravado in the game.” And everyone is being guided toward the center, more or less. I’m not saying it’s bad. I get it, but I believe that those who dare to be different are the ones that people pay to see and stop what they’re doing to watch. And Phil was exactly that.

“Look, I have my criticisms of Phil, but I will never criticize his golf game, his willingness to take chances, or his attempt to outplay the opposition,” Chamblee said. “I always found him to be really fascinating, despite the fact that many want to criticize him for believing he knows it all.

“I adore that curious, that side of Phil.”

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